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Council approves extra £2.5 million to manage summer visitor numbers

The lockdown is hoped to have been lifted by late June
The lockdown is hoped to have been lifted by late June

MILLIONS of pounds in extra funding has been approved by BCP Council to manage an expected influx of visitors this summer.

Agreed by its chief executive under emergency coronavirus powers, the £2.5m will be partly used to hire dozens of extra staff and to set up a park-and-ride facility, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

A report said the increased spending follows “extensive planning” but that it needed to be brought in “urgently” before a predicted surge in visitors starting from Easter.

Earlier this year, a budget of just over £1m was agreed for the council’s “resort management” work.

But with the council having established its own calendar of events and the government having announced the phased ending of the national lockdown, it was felt this needed to be increased.

Last week the council’s chief executive, Graham Farrant, signed off a £2.4m increase to the budget through emergency Covid-19 powers.

“Extensive planning has taken place in order to inform these proposals and we must now move urgently to implementation,” a decision report says.

It added that the “huge influx” of visitors to the area last summer, and the subsequent calling of a major incident, had prompted this work.

Similar “exceptional” numbers are expected this year with more people holidaying domestically.

The money includes more than £500,000 to increase capacity to deal with litter. The council is also working in partnership with McDonald’s on a campaign which will include the use of drones to monitor bins.

These will also be used to oversee the seafront on busier days and when staffing levels are lower than normal.

A further £500,000 has been allocated to projects to manage traffic across the conurbation, including £112,000 to set up a 350-vehicle park and ride service.

Extra Covid marshals will be employed to monitor train stations following crowded scenes last summer.

The remainder is for measures to tackle anti-social behaviour, management of public toilets and the year-round clearing of sand from the prom.

Councillors and council officers have been meeting to consider ways to tackle crowding issues, prompting the request for extra funding.

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